Oakland Mock Results!
We had a wonderful Mock Newbery discussion Sunday afternoon, with 20 in attendance, and 15 voting (who had read all nine titles). Yet…we ran short of time to come to a conclusive consensus. We took 3 ballots over the course of 45 minutes, and then just called time. Here’s how it went.
All nine titles received some votes, with the 1st place votes distributed among the first six (alphabetically by title). HIRED GIRL had 5 first place votes; but MOST DANGEROUS was ahead in points with the most votes overall. GOODBYE STRANGER was fairing well; and while GONE CRAZY had the same number (3) of first place votes, ROLLER GIRL had plenty more votes and points, even with none in first place. We had a free-for all discussion for about 10 minutes following this votes, with much from fans of DROWNED CITY and ROLLER GIRL who now saw a glimmer of a chance for these. Now that people could see where the initial support lay, we turned back for a second round of voting, to see if it would shift.
Well, Still very little consensus. While ECHO and RHYTHM RIDE came off this ballot, the crucial votes just seem to have shifted around. We saw that, indeed, DROWNED CITY and ROLLER GIRL started looking better, each gaining 1 first place votes, as did MOST DANGEROUS (garnering 2 more votes total). GOODBYE STRANGER also picked up some steam. And we were no where closer. Now, very brief discussion continued around the first place vote getters. Did DROWNED CITY achieve more with it’s spareness than MOST DANGEROUS for all its effort? ROLLER GIRL or GOODBYE STRANGER give a more authentic view of girlhood? HIRED GIRL achieve consistency of character? We hustled back to a third ballot, watching the clock.
MY SENECA VILLAGE fell off in this round, and what we started to see was a compaction of votes that happens when you’re down to six titles and fifteen votes. While MOST DANGEROUS continued to gain support and now had the most first place votes along with points, it was still not really at a consensus, as 1st place camps only seemed to be firming up. Without a good hour ahead of us to unpack these camps through discussion, reflect, and vote again, we decided simply that we would call these our top ranked books, and I’ll type them out here if that board is hard to read, in order by total points:
MOST DANGEROUS: 38 points (6 1st, 2 2nd, 4 3rd…12 votes)
ROLLER GIRL: 33 points (2 1st, 7 2nd, 2 3rd…11 votes)
HIRED GIRL: 22 points (4 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd,…8 votes)
GOODBYE STRANGER: 19 points (3 1st, 1 2nd, 1 3rd….6 votes)
DROWNED CITY: 14 points (1 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd…5 votes)
GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA: 9 points (1 2nd, 2 3rd…3 votes)
I hope that others who were there can chime in on our discussion about each of these titles and how they differed from discussions here. I’ll very briefly highlight:
DROWNED CITY…supporters found a clear theme artfully presented through spare, precise, communicative text that worked exactly as intended alongside the pictures. We did talk about the lack of the racial story element; though we noted text that did emphasize the economic disparities.
ECHO….as you see from the voting, not as much appreciation for this than in Jonathan’s group. Though my defense for the audience for this book was noted, there was general disappointment with what felt like “lopsided” pacing, and many many quibbles that went undefended.
GONE CRAZY IN ALAMBAMA…seemed to make strong feelings on both sides, and not a lot of middle ground. You see in the voting that a few went all out for it from the beginning, but most chose to cast their bets elsewhere.
GOODBYE STRANGER…we noted Stead’s fine prose, chillingly realistic characterization. Some discussion about the “you” voice, with some voice strong arguments for it, and others continuing to have issues. This came up again in post ballot discussion.
HIRED GIRL… much of the appreciation was as noted here. While I put my concerns on the table (as well as appreciations), I did not push them as that was not really the point of this exercise, and we only touched on them lightly. More concerns had to do with whether Joan’s voice really worked, as it didn’t for many, and with the “avuncular function” of the ending, seeming an unsatisfactory resolution for Joan’s character.
MOST DANGEROUS… This was a book that everyone wanted to talk about, and remembered, noting that the way Sheinkin presents this story makes it irresistible even if you never wanted to read the subject, or thought you had before. Some questions about interpretations, “glossing over” some parts (such as his first marriage).
MY SENECA VILLAGE…This was a favorite for a few, and we talked a bit for how to approach it: as historical fiction? History? Poetry? We noted how much it delivers…also, how much it expects of its readers and how little it gives outside of the poems themselves, trying to imagine the perfect readership, and its approach.
RHYTHM RIDE… This was appreciated for how differently it approach nonfiction in comparison to our other two titles, though as with HIRED GIRL there were camps about the voice and its effectiveness.
ROLLER GIRL… Many fans for this story, as you can see from the voting. I think this was the surprise book on the table. In discussion, we compared it to GOODBYE STRANGER and then talked about how each achieved its story differently through its form. There were no concerns with this book voiced that I can recall, except in out to consider the text in concert with, while apart from, the illustrations.
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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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