by Eva Mitnick
The nights are getting longer, there’s a new chill in the air (except in Los Angeles, where the hot Santa Ana winds are blowing), and a Children’s Librarian’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of books awards. In my case, thoughts of the Newbery in particular have focused my reading habits.
We’ve all been devouring the latest issues of School Library Journal, Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly, adding dozens of books to our must-read list. We’ve attended Notable Books discussions at ALA. We’ve snatched every possible free moment to read as many of the well-reviewed and buzzed-about books as possible.
Reading is such a solitary activity, however, and even we book addicts need to lift our heads from the pages every once in a while to find out what our friends and colleagues are reading — and more important, what they are saying about the books they are reading. Perhaps we may even be inspired to join the discussion. This is where the blogosphere, with its scores of enthusiastic children’s literature fans, becomes indispensable.
My current favorite blog is the relatively new Mock Newbery blog Heavy Medal, written by Sharon McKellar and Nina Lindsay and hosted by School Library Journal. The posts about particular Newbery contenders are thoughtful and insightful, judging books using Newbery criteria and the writers’ own expertise. Best of all, comments are actively sought, creating a particularly dynamic forum in which to discuss books.
Googling “mock Newbery” will result in plenty of blogs to peruse, but two sites that I find particularly interesting are the Eva Perry Mock Newbery Book Club, hosted by the Wake County Public Library in North Carolina, and the ACPL Mock Newbery, hosted by the Allen County Public Library in Indiana. Also try Anokaberry, written by Nan Hoekstra of Anoka County Public Library in Minnesota. All three of these blogs have lovely lists, short and long, of Newbery contenders.
Speaking of the Newbery, Anita Silvey has an article in the School Library Journal that is sure to engender much heated discussion about the purpose and relevance of the Newbery Award.
Now, there are other awards out there on the horizon, including all the rest of our illustrious ALSC Awards, but I find that if I focus on too many, my head begins to sizzle and smoke. However, I do just have to mention that nominations for the Cybil Awards (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) begin Wednesday, October 1 and run through October 15. Anyone may nominate one book per category (and there are plenty of categories to choose from), and panels of bloggers create short lists and then vote for the winners. This might be considered a refreshing change from “established” awards; it’s also a great way to add enticing books to one’s must-read list.
Ah, fall — apples, pumpkins, and plenty of juicy books. Happy reading!!