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Anyone else want to get hold of a couple of ALA committees (namely the Printz and Newbery) and talk to them about the sin of omission?
Not faulting any of the honorees, but come on Wonder and The Fault in Our Stars not being recognized? Seriously?
#1 - January 29, 2013, 06:05 AM
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Mike Jung

There was a bit of a ruckus on the ALA list serve yesterday when a couple of librarians suggested that the Printz shouldn't be awarded solely on the basis of perceived literary merit, but should also take broad popular appeal into account. The conversation unfortunately devolved into a bit of a flame war, but drama aside, it brought up that evergreen topic once again.

I think talking about omitted titles that SHOULD have been included is really complicated, and a bit of a slippery slope. Would there be defined standards for when a book crosses over into the realm of "unjustifiable omission"? What would those standards be? WONDER and TFIOS are hugely and no doubt deservedly popular, both critically and commercially - which of those factors determines their worthiness to be greater than the books that ultimately were chosen? Or is it both? If it's both, what's the tipping point in favor of either one? If it's a mix of both things, well, you can argue that THE RAVEN BOYS was also unjustly omitted. One of my personal YA favorites in 2012 was J. Anderson Coats's THE WICKED AND THE JUST, which I also think is one of the best YA novels I've read over the past FIVE years. It didn't get a sniff. WILL JUSTICE BE SERVED FOR THE WICKED AND THE JUST?? Well, no, and it doesn't have to be. I wanted it to be honored, but that doesn't mean it HAD to be.

I don't come at this purely from the perspective of "the committee worked really hard to pick those winners and everybody should just shut up," because I actually believe that discussing and debating the results is one of the most valuable aspects of any awards ceremony. But the subjectivity of it all is, IMHO, both undeniable and wonderful. A book's level of literary quality (subjective though it might be) does not rise and fall with its level of broad appeal, and as writers, published and pre-published, we know that better than most people.
#2 - January 29, 2013, 09:02 AM
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 09:04 AM by Mike Jung »

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I was definitely surprised by those omissions, and yet from observing these awards carefully for the last number of years (at least as carefully as you can without being privy to the committee meetings themselves), I've come to realize just how subjective they are, and how the particular makeup of a committee affects the outcome.  It's completely possible that if only one or two committee members were different the results could have been different. 

Take comfort in the fact that neither WONDER nor TFIOS needs these particular awards to find a huge audience. :)
#3 - January 29, 2013, 09:14 AM
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Mike and Anne Marie have said this well.
#4 - January 29, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Mike and Anne Marie have said this well.

#5 - January 29, 2013, 09:26 AM
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I am a HUGE fan of the Morris Awards. I wish the other age groups (middle grade and picture book) had awards for first time authors. Such cool and new stuff comes to light then. Not that this is really related to the topic at hand, but just a way that more books under a certain age group can gain award recognition, and I appreciate more books on lists rather than less bc there are so many kidlit books being published now. All of them can never be included, so I've come to accept it. I was more upset last year when there was only one gold and two silver Newberys given when there were more worthy books, IMO.
#6 - January 29, 2013, 10:10 AM
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I’ve never been disappointed at the Newbery awards’ choices. It is a stellar list, going all the way back to 1922.  :treasure

But I also don’t think, not for a Nano-moment, that these are the best books published in those years. What they are- excellent books- is not synonymous with “the number one/two/three top of the line for literary merit.” No more than the Oscars really reflect “the best” movies made that year.

That’s why I don’t get riled up by the omissions or the choices. I would, had they chosen fluff or refuse  :garbage: . They most certainly have not done that.
No need for dander-raising. Really.
#7 - January 29, 2013, 10:37 AM

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There've been times I've felt this way, Dave, in the heat of the moment. And, unlike Mirka, I still question what the committee was thinking with some years' awards. :)

But overall, I'm very happy, with this year and past years, although I am also surprised that Wonder and TFIOS got nothing (well, except for the audio award for the latter). I DO want to think that the ALA awards are about literary quality and not popularity. Of course, it is a subjective process, the makeup of the committee is huge, and some years are strong and others weak. 2012 was an extremely strong year.

I keep coming back to that old Newbery phrase "most distinguished contribution." If I'm being honest, I have to admit that a few titles that got buzz this year would not have been "most distinguished" in my estimation. Good books, even wonderful books, yes; MOST distinguished, no.

I know the fact that I love Ivan helps how I feel, and that the book I absolutely did NOT want to see skunked, Splendors and Glooms, was not. (To me, THAT is distinguished.)

I don't quite get Wonder's omission from any Schneider mention, but then I can't fully appreciate the challenges of serving on these committees, either.
#8 - January 29, 2013, 10:53 AM
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Yes, yes, yes, to everything Mike and everyone else has said.

I watched the awards through the live webcast, and when the Schneider was announced, it sounded as though all the air was sucked from the room. I could hear thoughts of "What about WONDER?" It was nearly as bad when IN DARKNESS  was announced for the Printz. But as has already been said, the whole process is highly subjective. Take the same books and run them through different committees and the outcome would likely be different. Honestly, I get excited when the winners are books I don't know. Just more excellent books to add to my reading pile, and I am genuinely pleased for authors who didn't have the benefit of much buzz rising to the top. 

Like dinalapomy, last year was the most upset I've been in a while. When the presenter announced there were only two honor books, there was an audible gasp. Last year's biggie to be snubbed was OKAY FOR NOW. Like TFIOS, it received only the Odyssey Award. I suppose there will be one or two of those every year.
#9 - January 29, 2013, 04:09 PM
EVERY DAY AFTER--Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books, June 11, 2013

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There are so many really good books every year, and I mean REALLY GOOD, that it becomes sort of a mystery why some are visible and others way under the radar.  Like Mike, I loved THE WICKED AND THE JUST--but at least it was on some radars and lists and got some stars, even if no fancy sticker yesterday.

And WONDER and OKAY FOR NOW I loved, but at least those books have found tons of fans, stickers or no stickers.

But then I think about, say, Lynne Kelly's CHAINED, which came out early in the year, and which I totally adored, and I'm not sure it even got a starred review.  (I hope I'm wrong, but I don't remember one.)  And yet when I was reading it, I was just full of admiration and love.  If it had gotten an award, that would have seemed completely fitting to me.  And that's just one of many examples I could think up, if I ran my finger along my bookshelves and thought over the books I read last year.  So who can say how these things happen?  The ways of readers and committees and journals and, indeed, groups of human beings, are all very mysterious!

The good news is that the books that get huge attention and awards and so on are almost always wonderful.  There are lots of other wonderful ones, though, that get lost in the crowd.
#10 - January 29, 2013, 05:14 PM
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I didn't finish WONDER, so I can't comment on it (though that may say something right there), but having read and enjoyed TFiOS and many other books this year, I have to say that, as usual, no book is without flaw, and many books have qualities I admire.

The selective awards are hit and miss. I always read through lists like the ALA Notables and the BBYA to make sure that *I* didn't miss out on anything I should have read...
#11 - January 29, 2013, 06:42 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site:

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I sort of see these awards as a winning of the lottery. There are so many worthy books each year and a finite number of subjective brains making the decision. Nothing ever surprises me. But I agree that I'm often happy when I see a title I'm unfamiliar with. More good books for my list.

I do wish they'd announce finalists, though. Like for the National Book Award.
#12 - January 30, 2013, 10:45 AM


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