Last Chance Workout
Well, I’m here in Dallas now. Here are some final thoughts to mull over this weekend . . .
During our mock Newbery, I voted the same way on all three ballots: 1. AMELIA LOST 2. I BROKE MY TRUNK! 3. SIR GAWAIN. Since I clearly thought AMELIA LOST was the most distinguished that claimed my first place vote. I also knew I wanted I BROKE MY TRUNK on my ballot, and finally I opted for SIR GAWAIN despite a mixed discussion. I eschewed the novels entirely–since I still hadn’t made up my mind–and then, too, I wanted to keep SIR GAWAIN on the table–and in the conversation. I figured by voting this way, I would defer to those people who strongly supported one novel above the rest, and then I could strategically adjust my votes for the second ballot once I saw the lay of the land. Thus, I never really had to do a direct comparison between OKAY FOR NOW and I BROKE MY TRUNK! and since, to my mind, AMELIA LOST was as distinguished, if not more so, I didn’t necessarily feel bad about it. Having been on the real committee, I’m not any good at making predictions anymore. I can only offer up how I would approach the Midwinter meetings, given the small sampling of books I have read and without the benefit of knowing what was suggested and nominated. I like my strategy from the mock Newbery and think I would go into the meetings with the same three, listen to the discussion with an open mind, and then adjust accordingly.
I know those three titles are not necessarily the most traditional kind of Newbery book, but they are not the only nontraditional titles I can vote for if the support is there. I can also get behind BOOTLEG, DRAWING FROM MEMORY, and THE MONEY WE’LL SAVE. I can also support the following novels: DEAD END IN NORVELT, THE FREEDOM MAZE, A MONSTER CALLS, OKAY FOR NOW, and THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE. So while the discussion can change things dramatically by altering which books I would put on my ballot, I really cannot see myself going outside of these eleven books, regardless of what happens in the discussion and how long and torturous the road to consensus. It doesn’t mean I’m against other books getting recognized; I just don’t feel the need to vote on the prevailing side.
I finished ICEFALL. I did like it and I do see distinguished qualities all over the place, but I don’t think it rises to the level of most distinguished. One thing about reading books late in the year, you’re comparing them against what you’re serious about putting on your own ballot, and perhaps I would have given ICEFALL more consideration if I had read it earlier when I wasn’t putting pressure on it to live up to certain expectations. I did like the plotting, but thought the pacing was slow–and I thought this about THE CLOCKWORK THREE, too. Theme was another criticism I had of that book, but this one has a wonderful pair in the coming of age theme and the importance of storytelling. I didn’t care for the first person present tense narrative, but I ignored it once the story picked up after the first third of the book.
So . . . Do you have any final thoughts, predictions, pleas, rumors, or gossip to share?
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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