…not the creator. Having been on one of the Newberry committees I can say with complete certainty that this is what happens. Committee members are looking intently at the books through the lens of the official criteria. They absolutely DO NOT consider the authors, illustrators, editors, or anything else of that nature. They are looking full-on at the work and nothing else.
However, those of us outside the committee room are aware of those creators and it can be hard to not think about the love and thought and care they put into their books when considering them in terms of awards. But I believe it is important to understand that this cannot be considered, not just for Newbery but other awards like the National Book Award too, I would guess.
This came to mind as I read Ian Parker’s New Yorker profile of J. K. Rowling, “Mugglemarch,” some of the responses to it (say this one), and now the first reviews of The Casual Vacancy. While it is pretty impossible for any competent reviewer (and here we could get into the whole debate about reviewing but I won’t) to consider this title without considering Rowling and Harry Potter, those on a committee that works as does the Newbery would absolutely have to do just that.