Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Now it gets real

For (give or take) 10 months I've been reading like a mad woman on all potential Newbery candidates. Every month I've sent in suggestions of the best of what I've read to my chair. Those were compiled and sent out to committee members but who suggested what remained anonymous.

We'll still suggest, but now we move on to the serious stuff, the nominations. Each committee member gets 7 nominations. Nominated books are the ONLY books on the table at the final discussion meeting.  3 of those 7 nominations were due this month.

That's a lot of pressure. Almost half of my nomination slots. And they won't be anonymous anymore. I wrote up between 150 and 500 words on each book which the other committee members will receive with my name attached.

At some point, I thought that my committee chair had sent in an example of a written nomination. But I couldn't find it, so I wrote on my own sans guidance. That part was scary. It's been a long time since I wrote critically about books. (Blog and goodread reviews aside, those don't really count). In the end I wrote a sentence or two about each book, a few sentences about each specific criteria in which I thought that book was particularly distinguished, and a few sentences in conclusion. (Thank you to my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Ruggles for teaching me the five paragraph essay format, it really is the answer to everything, just shortened or lengthened.)

Writing aside, choosing the books was the hardest part. My collection of books has long since grown out of the entire wall full of book cases dedicated to it in my house. The ones I have read are stored in large Rubbermaid tubs. Over the weekend I went through all of them and pulled out books that I could see either myself or someone else on the committee nominating. That was about 20 books but I'm sure I've missed some. I'll probably be very surprised at what people nominate.

Of those 20 books, I sorted out 10 that I would be happy to nominate. Clearly that is too many, so I chose four for this first round. As I was writing the nominations I narrowed those four down to three based on which nominations I thought would be easiest to write first.

I kept running into one problem when choosing books to nominate. I'd look at a book that was clearly distinguished and knew that someone on the committee would be nominating it, probably several someones. Part of me then wanted to put it aside as it was a "sure thing" and choose an also distinguished but less obvious choice. Isn't that a bit disingenuous to choose not the best book because I'm playing a game with which books get nominated?  I had this great ethical debate with the cats. The cats were in favor of being sneaky. They were also in favor of immediate treats, snuggles, and being allowed into the backyard to chase the birds around the bird feeder. Needless to say, the cats don't always get their way.

I can't tell you what I chose to nominate. Sorry! I am very excited about the crop of books we have available to us this year. There are some marvelous things out there. And I can't wait to see what my fellow committee members have nominated.

That said, a giant box of books, apparently the entire Houghton Mifflin Fall line arrived for me today. I'll have to sort that tonight. Except it is too heavy to lift. That might be a problem.

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