Thoughts on Newbery: Ten Years On

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It is the tenth anniversary of my Newbery.  Of course, it is really Laura Amy Schlitz’s and  honor-winners Christopher Paul Curtis, Gary M. Schmidt, and Jackie Woodson’s, but serving on that 2008 Committee was so very special that I do feel it is also mine somehow. What an  experience. That intense time of reading and thinking and reading and thinking. The tragic death of one of our original committee members, the wonderful Mikki Nevett. Our deliberations in a hidden-away room at Philadelphia’s Ritz Hotel where, during breaks, I would look out the window at the glorious view while eating the many sweets we all had brought; will-power be damned. The quiet celebratory drink a committee member and I had at the hotel’s classy bar.

Then there we were writing up the press release, making the Calls, and waiting to see the reaction to our choices at the YMA announcements. And of course there was that unique and amazing Banquet. How lovely that Travis and Colby are also reminding us of this in their latest episode of The Yarn, “Everything is Upside-Down: The 2008 Newbery and Caldecott Medals.

It was while on the committee that I started my “Thoughts on Newbery” series. This is from my first of these:

To help me along my own particular Newbery road, I planned on using this blog to work out my ideas about what a great book really is, more specifically — what a great American children’s book really is. I thought I’d do this with eligible books, but the recent controversy about award committee members blogging has me skittish; therefore, I’m going to use older books instead —- previous winners and honor books, other books I think perhaps should have won or been considered, and just any older book I admire and think is distinguished. However, even if I don’t write about eligible books in these Thoughts on Newbery posts, you can certainly write about them in the comments. Please, please do —- your thoughts on this year’s books will be incredibly helpful to me as I continue on my perhaps quixotic quest to find the best children’s book of the year.

Here are links to the posts I wrote during that special Newbery year:

Remembering with enormous fondness, gratitude, and awe my fellow committee members (as listed in the ALA press release though I know some of them are doing different things now):

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Chair Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, Oakland, Calif.; Yolanda Foster Bolden, Forsyth County Public Library, Winston Salem, N.C.; Barbara Jones Clark, Birmingham Public Schools, Southfield, Mich.; Monica Edinger, The Dalton School, New York; Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library; Tami Chumbley Finley, Bettendorf Public Library, Bettendorf, Iowa; Kathleen Isaacs, children’s literature specialist, Pasadena, Md.; Bonnie Kunzel, youth services adolescent literacy consultant, Germantown, Tenn.; Cindy Lombardo, Cleveland Public Library, Ohio; Martha V. Parravano, The Horn Book Magazine, Boston; Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Victor L. Schill, Harris County Public Library, Houston; Dean Schneider, Ensworth School, Nashville, Tenn.; Luann Toth, School Library Journal, New York; Maureen White, associate professor, University of Houston-Clear Lake, Canyon, Texas.

Since then I’ve continued the series, mulling over Newbery issues, indicating what I’d like to see win on a given year, and reflecting on winners. Soon I will be doing one for this year. Can’t wait to see what this year’s committee selects!

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