Hoping you all had some peaceful time off this week. Did you do any reading? Read something new, or something you read before? I always have that tug-of-war over the holidays… I want the excitement of a new read, but I don’t want to risk a bad one. So I often end up turning to something I know will make me happy. Some perennial Christmas-themed re-reads for me include Susan Cooper’s THE DARK IS RISING and Kevin Henkes’ PROTECTING MARIE. Terry-Prachett-anything often also does the trick, no theme necessary. Last year, it was THE HOBBIT, which I hadn’t read since I was a kid (close your trap), and it was brilliant.
Newbery committee members don’t have much of a choice, however. They now have their complete list of nominations, with justifications, that will constitute their discussion list (there is a caveat for adding, late, any December publications that missed the deadline) and are busy re-reading. Maybe their favorite, nominated in October, got no other justifications, and they are giving it a third read to tease out the passages that give evidence of its strengths, in comparison to other more widely-nominated titles? Or, that title they really did not like, but that got a lot of compelling justifications? That one, they might try giving a “fresh” read… take an unmarked copy (often, committee members end up with 2-3 copies of something between ARC and finals), read the justifications, clear the mind, and start again.
Slow readers, like me, have probably got their days charted, down to the hour, between now and the Midwinter discussions, to make sure they can get to each re-read, and compile their notes. I had to give myself daily reading shifts (7pm-11pm) to keep the pace. I wanted to make sure that every book got that “fresh” read…the one where you don’t take notes, but read it like a reader. If I hadn’t given it that read the first time (that gets very hard to do later in the year), I’d try to do it towards the end. Sometimes failed. Reading for the Newbery is kind of a self-brain-washing, and takes a while to undo.
What one title do you hope a non-fan on the Newbery committee right now would give one fresh read? And what are you re-reading right now?
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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 email@example.com
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