A week ago, we all received the compilation of the second round of nominations. Almost 1/2 of the titles from October were re-nominated, receiving more supports this month. Some newly added titles also received multiple nominations — showing how some minds function the same way. About half of the titles on the list only receive one nomination each while some have much higher nomination counts. However, I don’t want to analyze too much based on total nominations received since I simply don’t believe that these numbers tell the whole story or are solid indicators of any book’s winning chances.
There are some great additions and I’m so pleased to see that someone else has nominated particular titles so I don’t need to — there are at least half a dozen of them that I also love dearly. Now they are on the table — and I feel greatly relieved! Was I surprised at some of the nominated titles? Sure I was! But that just shows how drastically different our reading tastes or judgments could be from each other. Which — I guess, should come as no surprise at all. I am sure that at least one if not two or three or all of my nominations have not made it to the top of someone else’s list. The few books that are so low on my rating ladder obviously have been sitting comfortably on someone else’s top spots. Now, my job is to make sure that I re-read these books via the lenses of my fellow committee members, taking into consideration what they have said in their nominating paragraphs and do my best to understand the positive aspects of these books. At the same time, if I continue to find these books not on par with my definitions of outstanding or distinguished, I must find ample textual evidences that support my reservations and present them clearly and succinctly during our deliberation process. In the end, no matter how I personally feel about any specific title, I must consider the whole picture and vote according to the majority will of the committee.
These are the challenges that I find most enriching and that is why serving on the Newbery is such a valuable professional and personal experience. It not only offers me the opportunity to intensely examine a slice of children’s literature but also the chances to hone my skills as a community member under a structured democracy.